5 Criteria for Web Site Evaluation
Some points to consider when performing a site critique. This info culled from various sources and, to be quite truthful, is just about worth the binary ink it is printed on. Oh well, just some ideas to ponder. Alan Garfield
Minimally - just minimally - all sites should:
1. Fit within a table of exact size. Now you don't have to do this if you're using frames, but
    otherwise you need to place everything inside that initial table.
    If it does not, your site will not pass.
2. Fit within 1024x768 screen resolution. If it does not, your site will not pass.
3. Have an email on the first page (only) with a subject.
    If it does not, your site will not pass.
4. Follow correct navigation structure. No caps on any filename/extension. No spaces on
    any filename/extension. Any pictures should be in a folder: 'images' is the standard name.
    If you break with these, your site will not pass.
5. Follow what the project manager directs.
    If it does not, your site will not pass.
The evaluation of a web site is certainly not an exact science. Individual preferences and user experiences play a huge role in the appreciation of a site. Also, specific evaluation criteria must always be considered in terms of how it relates to the purpose of the site and the desired audience requirements. (For instance, if the purpose of the site is to demonstrate experimental Flash animations, load time will probably not be a significant consideration.) Business sites, of course, require more extensive evaluation and testing than do personal sites. Keeping this in mind then, here is a list of questions I consider when evaluating a web site (mine included). (Hint: For the sake of clarity -- yes is the desired answer to each of the following questions.)
I. Load Time
1. Does the site's load time seem reasonable?
2. If the site entrance is a graphic/Flash animation, is a skip intro option available?
3. Is an HTML version of a Flash site provided?
4. For an in-depth evaluation of load time, the following may be helpful:
  • NetMechanic HTML Toolbox
    This site evaluation tool also includes a load time check and provides load time information for five connection rates. The free online sample utility will check up to five pages.


II. Appearance - Visual appeal is nearly always influenced to some degree by personal preference. However, there are specific design qualities that can be evaluated:
1. Is the page layout and use of color, fonts, and images consistent throughout the site?
2. Are there less than three fonts used in the design?
3. Are there a moderate number of colors used in the design?
4. Is the design appropriate for the purpose of the site and for the intended audience?
5. Will the design appeal to the target audience?
6. Is the page layout balanced, clean, and uncluttered?
7. Are the images smooth and properly anti-aliased to the background? (No jaggies or halos.)
8. Are the graphics appropriate and relevant to the content of the site?
9. Are your eyes directed to the content or important page elements?
10. Are the color combinations pleasing and appropriate for the site's purpose?
11. Is the text clearly legible?
12. At an 1024x768 resolution, is important content (such as navigation, search boxes, site and page identification) visible without scrolling?
13. Is copyright and contact information easily located?
14. Is the page short enough that it doesn't require a great deal of vertical scrolling? (Especially important on the front page of the site.)
15. Is the purpose of the site (and each page within it) immediately clear?


III. Structure and Navigation

1. Is the content of the site logically organized?

2. Is navigation located in the same place on each page of the site?
3. Is the navigation clearly recognizable as navigation?
4. Are all links clearly labeled and their destination obvious?
5. Is the navigation simple to understand and use?
6. Is the use of the browser back button unnecessary (no dead end pages)?
7. If icons or other images are used for navigation, is their meaning clear?
8. If icons or other images are used for navigation, are text links also provided?
9. Is the purpose of each page easily identified?
10. Is any essential information directly linked to in the navigation system (for instance, a contact page)?
11. Can users get to information with a minimal number of clicks (a good rule of thumb is no more than 3 clicks)?
12. Does the navigation allow the user to easily backtrack or return to upper levels in the site?
13. Is there an obvious method of navigating between related pages on the site?
14. Is there an obvious method of navigating between different sections of the site?


IV. Content
1. Does the content reflect the purpose of the site?
2. Is the content appropriate for the intended audience?
3. Is the content sufficient to meet user needs and expectations?
4. Is text content free from spelling, grammatical, and typographical errors?
5. Are short sentences, short paragraphs, headings, and bulleted lists used so that the content can be easily scanned?
6. Are lines of text too long to be easily read?
7. Is information correct and current?
8. Can specific content be easily found?
9. For sites with large amounts of information, is a search function available?


V. Usability
1. Is the site cross-browser and cross-platform compatible? (At a minimum, does the site work for users of both IE and Netscape browsers, using either Mac or Windows operating systems?)
2. Can the site be viewed without unintended horizontal scrolling at the most common resolution? (Currently, 1024x768 is the most common resolution.)
3. Are form fields arranged in a logical order?
4. Are all components of the site functional? (Links, forms, scripts, etc.)
5. Is information concerning any special browser or plug-in requirements clearly visible and easily understood?
6. Are interactive features clearly explained?
7. Are the skills required to use the site’s features appropriate for its intended audience?
8. Is there an off switch for music?
9. Is the site designed to be accessible to disabled users?


In conclusion, then...

Overall Design Goals

  • Simple
  • Clear
  • Consistent
  • Appropriate
  • Appealing
  • Usable

Get Input From Others

It's true that we often see what we expect to see. That's why web designers should always seek feedback from user groups, colleagues, friends, family...; and from both new and seasoned Internet users. The more people who provide input on their experiences in viewing and using a site, the better the site will be.